Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sugary Beverages

I think I speak for the Founding Fathers when I say: Michael Nutter’s sugar tax leaves a sour taste

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but it will cost more to swallow under Mayor Nutter’s proposed tax on sweetened beverages.

Swallow this, Mister Mayor.

Under the plan — toughest of its kind in the country — Philadelphians would pay an extra 2 cents per ounce for all sugar-fueled potables, including soda, ice tea, even chocolate milk!

My fellow citizens, the right to bear syrupy libations without penalty is one of the fundamental building blocks of the Bill of Rights. [SIGNUP]

Think about it. The Boston Tea Party wasn’t just about tea. It was about taxing tea, which as everyone knows tastes disgusting without sugar. And since our Founding Fathers didn’t have access to Sweet ‘N’ Low — it was available only in Mongolia at the time — colonists were actually being taxed for sweetened beverages.

It was un-American then, and it’s un-American now.

The Mayor’s claim that the new tariff will somehow combat obesity is, you should pardon the expression, a pie in the sky. Fat people who drink Coca-Cola by the barrel will do what bargain-seeking consumers of wine and alcohol do … buy it in Jersey.

New Jersey and Coke — Perfect Together.

Philadelphians who do make the switch to artificially sweetened soda may shed some pounds, but in doing so they could face such possible side effects as panic attacks, depression or cancer.

If there’s any logic here, I don’t see it. Let’s say you buy a 12-ounce can of Coke Classic and a package of Butterscotch Krimpets at the Wawa. You’d get taxed on the Coke, but not on the Krimpets, even though the Krimpets have more calories and sugar.

But if you blended the Krimpets in a glass of white milk, would that count as a sweetened beverage? Questions like these will surely give City Council pause. Maybe even a pause that refreshes.

And that is my two cents’ worth.

GAIL SHISTER teaches writing at Penn and is a columnist for Her work appears on The Philly Post every Tuesday and Thursday.

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  • Jerry

    Honestly Gail, you were way too nice about this. I don’t live in the city, but if I did, I’d be righteously angry about this. But then again, it was you liberals who elected other liberals, whose spending leads to taxes like this.
    You got what you deserve. And I’m willing to bet you’re not smart enough to toss Nutter out in the next election. I’ll bet you a soda that you’re not smart enough.

  • DKD

    *rolling eyes*… another radical conservative with nothing rational to say… (Jerry)…

  • Bettie

    I remember you! You were the same person who complained about the calorie information being displayed on the Starbucks menu.

    I like the proposal. People shouldn’t drink their calories.

  • Kim

    Can PhillyMag curb all of this right-wing nonsense by atleast attmepting to provide some balance? All I have read about so far since this blog started last week is “greedy” Unions and Workers asking Septa for a raise, how taxing soda is unamerican, and how only muslim people can be terroristis. Give me a break already!

  • Jerry

    So Kim would stifle the speech of people she doesn’t agree with?
    That’s a good little commie.

  • Jo

    I thought taxing the sugar in sodas was a bad idea, and now that Gail has put it in perspective, I can see that it’s even a worse idea. Well put, good read, and taxing sugar is wrong!!!

  • V

    First, thanks for the laughs — how you manage that when I don’t even agree with you is nothing short of magical.

    But: I’d like to know how it is Nutter is supposed to address all the debt he was left to manage. We don’t want to give anything up (remember all those pious cries for keeping open libraries that no one goes to?) AND we don’t want to pay for it.

    How childish is that?

    Instead of pointing fingers at Nutter, let’s curl ’em around and point at ourselves. And while we’re at it, how about a little Wicked Witch of the West crooked finger at our disgraceful City Council, who are playing the same chickenpoop games as our delightful senators and reps in Washington.

    Meantime, Rome is burning, folks. Rome is burning.